Horses help Duncton Hanger in national park

Frankie Woodgate with Tobias
Frankie Woodgate with Tobias

ANCIENT woodland at Duncton Hanger in the South Downs National Park is being restored, thanks to the hard work of two heavy horses.

Tobias and Yser, and their owner Frankie Woodgate, are helping to clear a 1960s plantation of western red cedar trees on the steep and sensitive site, so native woodland can return.

The work is being carried out in partnership between the South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) and the Barlavington Estate with the support of the Forestry Commission.

In total about two hectares of cedar plantation will be cleared by Tobias and Yser.

Frankie, of Weald Woodscapes, has been a professional forester for 17 years.

She said: “Taking machines into a sensitive area can damage young trees and compact the woodland floor slowing down the return of native trees.

“Tobias and Yser work very hard and on a good day just one of them can clear up to 20 tonnes of wood.”

Graham West, park ranger, said: “Not only is the land very sensitive but it’s also on a 45 degree slope, so machines just weren’t an option.

“Having Tobias and Yser’s big hooves scarifying the ground under the plantation will actually help our native trees return sooner.”

Because the land under the more recent cedar plantations had a long history of ancient woodland cover it should regenerate naturally over the next few years.